Branding is undertaken to help support sales and revenue generation; stimulating initial sales and then retain sales. By creating a strong brand name with the associations identified above in terms of brand identity, the consumers perceptions may be influenced which potential to impact on the purchase decision.
When a consumer makes a purchase, they will traverse the purchase process model, usually defined as occurring in five stages; need/desire recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision and post purchase behavior. Branding has the potential to impact across all of these stages, potentially influencing the process in favor of that particular brand. Strong brands have the potential to stimulate the perception of a need or a desire; as seen with Coca-Cola and the sound of the bottle opening included in the advertisements, often accompanied by images of an apparently refreshing drink, seeking to stimulate thirst. Apple have also been good at stimulating a need or desire with the launch of new products, which consumers decide they want. However, in many instances, the need recognition will be associated with a product or product category rather than a specific brand, with branding playing an important role in the information search and subsequent evaluation.
After a need/desire is recognized, the second stage involves an information search in order to gather knowledge of the potential alternatives on the market which may satisfy that need. Where a company has successfully stimulated the need, the information search may be limited. However, depending upon the type of purchase being made, the information search may be extensive, the collection of data from a number of sources. The sources will include existing perceptions regarding the company and its products, as well as marketing messages, which will be heavily influenced by the branding. If a brand is known, there will be preconceptions that will provide information. If a brand is not known, rebranding itself is likely to create assumptions based on the associations created by the brand presentation.
During the evaluation stage, consumers will choose the product/brand which they think is most suited to their needs, this will include consideration of elements such as functionality, quality, price, as well as intangible elements such as company values and practices. Branding has the potential to influence perceptions across all of these potential considerations. For example, Ryanair and easyJet have brands which represent a low price and value, Apple has a brand identity associated with innovation and premium pricing.
Effective branding can reduce the amount of effort placed into both the information search and the evaluation; if a consumer believes they have found a product which will meet their needs are unlikely to continue searching. Within the evaluation stage, familiarity decreases the potential risks associated with a brand, making the purchase of that brand more likely. Branding also has the potential to support loyalty and increase the amount of repeat purchases. Where a consumer has a positive experience with a brand they are more likely to make repeat purchases, with brand recognition facilitating the process. Customers may gravitate automatically to brands they know, like, and are familiar with, effectively reducing competition.
Once a brand has been purchased, there is the potential for associations with the brand to provide psychological satisfaction to the consumer. During the purchase process, the considerations will have included many dimensions, including the associated brand values and brand culture. Consumers may feel good purchasing brands they associate with good ethical or environmental practices or may also utilize brands as a form of conspicuous consumption, where the use of the product is undertaken in an overt manner providing one method of the individual displaying their own personality, tastes or values.
Therefore, branding has a number of benefits, including influencing the purchase decision, increasing consumer trust, leveraging associations to stimulate a desire/need, reducing perceptions of risk, creating positive associations for the target market, increasing recognition, and reducing the amount of effort placed into the cognitive processes when assessing alternative choices, all of which have the aim of increasing sales.